Friday, May 31, 2024

May 31, 1983: Would a Proper Screening Have Saved Maureen's Life?

High school yearbook photo of a finely-featured white girl with thick dark hair and dark eyes
Maureen Tyke
Nobody noticed how sick she was until it was too late.

Maureen Tyke, a 21-year-old North Huntington, Pennsylvania resident, was in Florida visiting a friend when she went to Aware Woman Clinic in Melbourne for a safe and legal abortion.

The abortion was performed by Dr. John Bayard Britton on Friday, May 27, 1983. The clinic records indicate that Britton noted that Maureen had a complete double uterus and cervix. Nobody noted anything else unusual.

About 24 hours after her abortion, Maureen developed nausea, vomiting, and chills. She felt extremely ill.

At about 11:00 Sunday morning, Maureen's friend called the clinic and said that Maureen had become ill. Staff there advised the friend to take Maureen directly to the emergency room. She was admitted to Holmes Regional Medical Center. She had fever and chills, and was extremely weak. Her blood pressure was very low and her skin had turned an unhealthy blue-gray from lack of oxygen to her tissues. 

Doctors at the hospital contacted the clinic, which to their credit provided copies of Maureen's records. 

Doctors at the hospital performed a complete hysterectomy on Maureen to try to remove what seemed to be the source of the infection. Their efforts were in vain. The raging infection led to septic shock and heart failure. Maureen died at 4:15 on the morning of May 31.

The autopsy found that Maureen had "florid myocarditis, probably of viral etiology [a serious viral infection of the heart]."

The medical examiner added, "The intensity of this myocarditis should indicate that the young woman was very ill and there should have been some signs or symptoms of serious illness at the time she was being prepared for the abortion."

However, as the autopsy had noted, nobody at the clinic had noticed that Maureen was very ill and in no condition for elective surgery. It can't be said for certain that an adequate physical examination and a referral for proper care could have saved Maureen. We can only know that they didn't happen.

On the tenth anniversary of Maureen's death, her father, Anthony Tyke, spoke to Florida Today. He expressed regret that Maureen had not told him of her plans for an abortion. "I'm sure she would not have gotten into that situation," he said. Maureen had been raised in a pro-life Catholic family and they did not object to the prolifers commemorating the anniversary of her death.

"I hold society responsible, and the clinic is part of it. The clinic is a business to make money; that's their intention. Their interest is not people."

Watch "Could Maureen Have Been Saved?" on YouTube.


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